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Baltimore Orioles' second-half preview: Team to beat in AL East

Verducci's Quick Pitch: Baltimore Orioles

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci previews the second half of the MLB season for the Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 52-42

Standing: 1st in AL East

Team Leaders: 

Batting Average: Adam Jones, .301

Home Runs: Nelson Cruz, 28

ERA: Chris Tillman, 4.11

The Baltimore Orioles reached the 50-win mark in 91 games, the quickest for the franchise since 1997. Baltimore is in first place in a struggling AL East; The Blue Jays are the only other team with a winning record.

The team's offensive success has been helped greatly by the offseason acquisition of Nelson Cruz. The DH is batting .287 with 28 home runs and 74 RBIs this season.

The Orioles have also had a strong season from its bullpen. Since naming Zach Britton closer in mid-May, the right-hander has been one of the Orioles' best arms. Britton has 15 saves in 48 1/3, and an ERA of 1.30.

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